December 1, 2013

CHAUMONT-SUR-LOIRE

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During our October holiday Nick was “working at home” half the time and the rest was an actual holiday.  On his days off we decided to do some proper touristy, holiday activities, such as visiting a few châteaux.

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The Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire was due to come to an end so we trotted off to see what was happening before it was too late.

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It was one of those beautiful, sunny autumn days when the air is fresh but the sun quite warm.  There were lots of other visitors making the most of the good weather and the last chance to see the gardens in all their glory.

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We found it all a bit peculiar, I must say.  There were huge, imaginative and elaborate garden displays that were apparently supposed to mean an awful lot to some people but we found them slightly crazy and obviously missed the point.

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For example, I didn’t quite get the point of these artificial flowers, but can see that they had taken a lot of work!

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I quite liked the quirkiness of this wardrobe front over a path.  In fact it would make an interesting feature in any garden.  Sans the lingerie, of course !!

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There were displays with peep-holes that were most inviting.  This one caught us out.  Each peep-hole was a mirror so all I saw was……me !!

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At the risk of sounding grumpy, we also felt the admission charge, €11 euros each for the gardens only, was a bit steep.  Many of the plants in the displays were well past their best.  As indeed most people’s gardens are by the end of October, but it looked like a lot of it had simply been left without any attention for quite some time and looked very sad.  It would have been fairer to charge slightly less than when the exhibits were obviously in their prime a couple of months before.

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Having said all that, we would definitely go back another year and possibly splash out on the full tour of the house and garden, treating ourselves to a nice lunch in the grounds as well.  More photos soon. 

Bon Dimanche !!

9 comments:

  1. I balk at paying to see a garden and if I do I want it to be full of fabulous ornamental plants, not garden sculpture. Thank you for going and reporting so we don't have to!

    That said, the garden at Apremont-sur-Allier was worth every euro cent and I'd love to go back. Also, I'd be happy to dig deep into my pocket to see a few English-style gardens in Normandy if we're ever in France during their peak. But on the whole, I get my gardening fix in France walking through flowery villages or looking over the fence at potagers.

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  2. The garden festival at Chaumont varies from year to year. There are always a few where the reality and the concept don't quite get it together, a few where the concept is so pretentious you wonder why they are working with gardens and not some other art form. But there are always a few with funny, quirky ideas that would be totally transferrable to real gardens. Some years it can be dire, but others it is a real treat. One of the reasons I like it is that the gardens have to be real gardens, to last from April to October. They change all the time, just like a real garden would, and unlike garden festivals such as Chelsea. The permanent plantings which fill the gaps between gardens are also very good. I definitely recommend going there slightly earlier in the season when the weather is better and either taking a picnic or eating there. The food is good (not cheap but not too outrageous). Did you visit the new section? The old park is also very good, and full of wonderful sculpture and plants as art. Personally I think the price is realistic, but a lot of people complain about it as although the festival has never been free, the park used to be. For comparison, Villandry is €6.50 for just the garden, and is a smaller area which (I assume) welcomes many more visitors. Villandry covers all its costs with its entry fees, but it is very unlikely that Chaumont does.

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    1. We did feel a bit like we were being charged full price for stale bread!
      I fancy going again in early summer, when the plants will be at their best.

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  3. What a shame. We visited the gardens twice: in the early 2000 and last year - each time in the beginning of June (the best time of year, I guess) and found it well worth our while. If you want to splash out on a meal there, avoid the Comptoir Méditerranien and go for the Grand Velum. The Comptoir used to be good, but last year it was just cheap and flavourless pasta. The Grand Velum is 'real restaurant', with real waiters! Can be a bit expensive though, depending on what takes your fancy. Martine

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    1. Martine, I will remember your tip about the restaurants next time.

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  4. I tend to like quirky art and design, but this would have left me disappointed (and not at all happy given the € 11 entry fee). But I do love the wardrobe front (like you, sans lingerie).

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  5. The artificial flowers are quite odd but each to their own.... Not sure I would like the wardrobe front in our small garden but if it was bigger it could be interesting. Have a good week Diane

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  6. The garden was, indeed, "interesting." But full price for stale bread is a perfect image.

    blessings and Bear hugs!

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  7. Some of the gardens work for me and some don't. You get an awful lot of garden for your 11€ - not just the festival gardens, but the whole new bit at the top and the potager. Far more than I can manage now. The permanent plantings have some imaginative combinations of plants too. I wish they signposted the south carpark a bit better, that is to say I wish they signposted it full stop. P.

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